by Ken Pishna (photo courtesy of theultimatefighter.tv)
Melvin Guillard, the first welterweight eliminated in a fight. (photo courtesy of theultimatefighter.tv)
Of course, the show kicked off with a recap of last week. Then, as Dana White explained, with two heavyweights having left on Week 1 (Kerry Schall due to injury and Eli Joslin quitting), a replacement needed to be selected to even out the team numbers. They chose Dan Christianson, a 277-pound behemoth from New Mexico.
Christianson arrived on Day 6, the last day that the fighters would have to work out and impress before the coaches select their respective teams. During the workouts, welterweight fighter Jorge Gurgel went down with an injury. Jorge revealed that he had actually suffered a severe injury just four weeks prior to the start of the show. He said that he has no ACL in his left knee and his patella keeps slipping out of place, especially when kickboxing.
Jorge went to have his knee looked at by the doctor, who drained the fluid that had built up around his knee and advised him that he was risking serious injury if he continued on the show. Jorge responded by saying, “I don’t care if I have to have a knee replacement later. I’m not getting out of that house until somebody beats me in a fight,” which had to be music to Dana’s ears after the first episode.
At this point of the show, everyone was complaining about how Melvin Guillard was getting on everyone’s nerves. Apparently, Melvin’s favorite topic of discussion was Melvin and everyone was getting sick of it.
This led us up to Day 7 and the selection of the teams. Rich Franklin, coach of the green team, won the coin toss and chose first, alternating selections with blue team coach Matt Hughes. After the selection process, the teams filled out as follows (in order of selection):
Rich’s Green Team – Keith Jardine (heavyweight), Jorge Gurgel (welterweight), Seth Petruzelli (heavyweight), Marcus Davis (welterweight), Rashad Evans (heavyweight), Anthony Torres (welterweight), Melvin Guillard (welterweight), and Brad Imes (heavyweight).
Matt’s Blue Team – Joe Stevenson (welterweight), Mike Whitehead (heavyweight), Josh Burkman (welterweight), Dan Christianson (heavyweight), Sammy Morgan (welterweight), Tom Murphy (heavyweight), Rob McDonald (heavyweight), and Luke Cummo (welterweight).
On Day 8, the fighters are treated to the first challenge. Ahem… excuse me… that would be the first Right Guard Extreme Challenge and we are treated to some of the new advertising tie-ins and product placements this season.
Randy Couture arrives in his hummer to introduce the “Capture the Dummy” challenge. The welterweight teams were each lined up in their own respective end zones on a field marked out for the challenge. They were then required to either bear crawl or move on their knees to the center of the field to capture a dummy and drag it back to their own end zone.
The fighters met in the middle and attempted to hold each other back from the dummy. In the end, it was Luke Cummo (of the blue team) that held one fighter in his guard and grabbed another with his hands that allowed the Hughes team to drag the dummy back to their end zone and win the challenge.
With the win, the blue team was allowed to select a welterweight from each team to fight and earn their spot on the show. After some deliberation, Dana white called all of the fighters together and announced that the blue team chose Josh Burkman to face Melvin Guillard of the green team.
After giving a speech that included him saying, “I’m not in there to give hugs and kisses. I’m in there to knock ’em out,” Melvin made a surprising move. He went in to Dana’s office to announce that, “this ain’t for me man, I just wanna go home.” At which point, you could have knocked Dana over with a feather as his jaw dropped to the floor.
Not wanting to feel the wrath of the Pres, Melvin quickly gave up the goods and told Dana that he was just kidding, as his coach, Rich Franklin, entered the office about to keel over with laughter.
Both fighters made weight without much fan fare, leading up to the first elimination fight of the season.
With Herb Dean as referee, Josh and Melvin squared off in the Octagon, each looking to send the other packing. [Enter another big sponsor of this season as the U.S. Army presented the Tale of the Tape.] Another change this season is that all of the elimination fights consist of three 5-minute rounds.
In the first round, Josh was able to consistently move in and take Melvin down, but it was Melvin that had Josh in serious trouble not once, but twice, each time with a deep guillotine choke. Josh escaped the first choke, but the second appeared as if it might be in deep enough to finish the fight. Josh relaxed and held on as time ran out in the round.
Starting off round two with a little standup, Josh eventually was able to take Melvin down again. Most of the round was spent on the ground with Josh controlling the positioning and working a plodding ground and pound strategy.
The final round was similar to the second, albeit with a bit more standup action to start off the round, which Melvin appeared to get the better of. But again, Josh continued with the takedowns and maintained control for most of the ground action, working strikes to the body and head, but also looking for the rear naked choke.
It was a solid fight to start off the season. Both fighters were trying hard with several attempts to finish. In the end, Josh won a unanimous decision, while Melvin had to say goodbye.
Melvin apparently broke his hand in the second round, but did not use it as an excuse. In fact, he didn’t even mention it to his corner. He left the show in style, humbly stating, “All my life I wanted to fight in the UFC and when I got my chance, I just froze.” He gave it a good go though and was right on when he said, “I didn’t quit. I left with my head held high.”
Coming Up On Week 3:
After winning his fight with Melvin, Josh shows up at the house with his arm in a sling and a surprise announcement. Then, it’s the heavyweights’ turn as they face a challenge in the pool and the first heavyweight elimination bout.